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Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Freedom Hardcover – Box set, October 1, 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Freedom
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  • When I Was a Slave: Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection (Dover Thrift Editions)
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  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover Thrift Editions)
Total price: $57.45
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two projects begun independently and presented together here provide chilling witness to slavery's persistent legacies. Transcripts of 124 former slaves interviewed in the 1920s and 1930s are accompanied by recently restored recorded interviews that have languished in the Library of Congress since 1941. Historian Berlin, founding director of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland, is a master of allowing the natural drama of history to unfold. The tapes particularly are riveting?perhaps especially for those seeking their roots in Southern slavery. Until the modern civil rights movement, Berlin notes, historians' "struggle over slavery" was considered "too important to be left to the [blacks] who experienced it," but their experience has increasingly been coming to light as more archival material is unearthed and made available. Still, some seams are apparent. The original transcribers of the print interviews (nine appear both in print and on cassette) made numerous and idiosyncratic editorial interventions that at times can read, as Berlin notes, like "minstrel-speak." Actor James Earl Jones and dancer Debbie Allen reading selections from the interviews on portions of the tape are not nearly as credible or moving as the voices of former slaves. Those wonderfully present voices describe family life, work ethic and recreational patterns, religious ethos and resistance in answer to questions posed in often unmistakably condescending terms by white interviewers. This project will enrich every American home and classroom. 40 b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up?These original recordings were made by interviewers from the Federal Writers' Project in the early 1930s. They have been remastered using state-of-the-art equipment and sound remarkably clear. Published in conjunction with the book of the same title, they represent the only known original recordings of former slaves. Their anecdotes are supplemented by dramatic readings by Debbie Allen, James Earl Jones, and Louis Gossett, Jr. among others. As good as the actors are, the tapes really come alive when the former slaves are speaking. Their dignity and authenticity are most impressive as they describe family life, daily routine, and work expectations. Despite their rigors and tragedies, the dozen men and women on the selections are not bitter but instead are optimistic, open-minded, and well-adjusted. These are excellent primary historical audio sources that students and teachers will find invaluable.?Rob Tench, Newport News Public Library, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 355 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; Har/Cas edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565844254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565844254
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There can be no more powerful telling of the history of slavery in the United States than to read it and hear it from the slaves' own mouths. Their recollections are, for the most part, graphic and chilling, but the diversity of these life experiences are also rich with good stories, too....slaves bonding together, looking out for one another and at times outwitting their masters and overseers. While the general knowledge of salvery has been known to many Americans for years, it is the actual detailed accounts of day-to-day life that make this book come alive. I hadn't known, for instance, that slaves were required to have passes in order to travel off the plantations or that Christmas and New Year's were largely times of rejoicing for both slave families and their master's families. Yet for the rest of the year the hardships and conditions that most slaves witnessed was incredible....beatings often for no reason, no shoes or lack of other clothing during the winter cold and often not nearly enough food. The clarity with which these former slaves recall their life 80 years or more before is an indication of how etched in their young minds life had been. The accompanying audio cassettes were the main reason l bought the book and they simply added a human dimension to the whole story. l had only two small disappointments with the audio segment....l would rather have had none of the actors read the transcripts...(the actual slave voices are far more powerful) and l wish that photos of the slave speakers could have been provided.... while there were many photos of the former slaves in the book they were not the photos of the slaves who made the audio tapes.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
the collection puts a face and voice to slavery. it answered any questions, while creating others. informative, letting the listeners know of the pride, courage and brillance of slaves. but in knowing more, the tapes clearly reveal that the whole, real truth died with the people of that era. we will never know the complete truth about that institution. it was a brutal mistake that still haunts all of civilization. the collection is an unbelievable experience.
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By A Customer on October 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
It's tough to tackle slavery and a work of such substance in a forum such as this, but here goes anyway...
Ira Berlin does a magnificent job, especially with his introduction, which sets the tone of the work and explains the various shortcomings related to the primary sources for his material.
This is not a compilation of slave narratives. This is a compilation of excerpts from interviews with elderly former slaves. It is a powerful look into the institution of slavery; while hardly exhaustive. it provides an excellent snapshot of slavery by the people who lived through and, indeed, suffered under it. You read about slaves: how they were born; where they lived; their relationship with the land, their masters, their drivers, and their fellow slaves; their religious expression; and several other aspects of their lives.
I found that this work helped puncture the mythology of slavery on both sides -- the mythology of the apologists as well as the liberals.
For me, ultimately, it reinforced a belief that I have developed a long time ago. There were "degrees" of slavery in practice across the US; there were good owners and bad ones; but one thing is for sure, all slave owners at some level knew of the humanity of their slaves. While for some this lead to leniency, for others this lead to denial-inspired harshness with their slaves. Either way, slave owners, whether "benevolent" or vicious, in the mere act of slaveowning performed a crime against humanity because they simply knew better...
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Format: Hardcover
For several years I've been reading powerful thought-provoking slave narratives. This is probably the most moving due to accompanying tapes of slaves discussing their thoughts and conditions when they were slaves. This book and tapes should be used in every high school American and World history classes. I recommend this book to everyone above the age of twelve. If you want to begin educating your children earlier about American history, specifically slavery have them read K.J. McWilliams books; The Journal of Darien Duff, an Emancipated Slave, The Diary of a Slave Girl, Ruby Jo, and The Journal of Leroy Jones, a Fugitive Slave. They are based on slave narratives such as this one and include many interesting photos as well as additional information.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a must read for anyone who has any questions about what it must have felt like to be a slave. I learned a lot and highly recommend the book. It's written EXACTLY as the interviewee speaks it so it's slow southern reading. Sometimes I'd have to read the sentence twice to understand what they were getting at, but it's a true representation of what was said so no complaints here. I really enjoyed the interviews and the pictures.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the most surprising things about this book is how funny and human it is - even when it's grim, the real voices ring through the stories. A review of this book should either be ten words or ten thousand, so I'll just say that I recommend it without reservation, a beautiful and important document of life in slave times.
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